events and publications

Forthcoming events in 2015

15-18 May 2015 Forest of Imagination

Forest of Imagination will take place from Friday 15 - Monday 18 May this year in Queen Square, Bath

Forest of Imagination is delivered by a collective of creative, cultural and educational organisations in Bath: Grant Associates, 5x5x5=creativity, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Herman Miller, Carpenter Oak, RSA, Bath Spa University, Ideas of the Mind and Bath Illuminate.
with a playful programme of installations, artworks and events.

International landscape architects Grant Associates are working with award-winning Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Herman Miller, Carpenter Oak, The House of Fairy Tales, and a host of local and international artists to design an immersive experience for visitors - including a miniature forest, an interactive musical bamboo installation and a giant ‘Magic Rabbit'! To help us make this vision a reality please take a look at our Kickstarter campaign and pledge your support.

Forest of Imagination is delivered by a collective of creative, cultural and educational organisations in Bath: Grant Associates, 5x5x5=creativity, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Herman Miller, Carpenter Oak, RSA, Bath Spa University, Ideas of the Mind and Bath Illuminate.

Thursday 18 June 2015 5x5x5=creativity annual conference in Bath

We are absolutely thrilled that our patron, Sir Ken Robinson will be giving the keynote speech at our conference on Thursday 18 June at the Michael Tippett Centre on the Newton Park Campus of Bath Spa University. Join us to celebrate the power of creativity and imagination in education. We will be launching our new initiative, House of Imagination.

Download programme and booking form here

Event summary archive:

11-21 March 2015 Glow at 44AD Art Gallery, 4 Abbey Street, Bath BA1 1NN

An exhibition illuminating 15 years of creative and democratic practice with 5x5x5=creativity. The exhibition features many of the 'Glow' moments from our many projects and partnerships including School without Walls, Forest of Imagination and our work with schools, artists, children and young people.


Children's Powerful Thinking, Wednesday 3 December, American Museum in Britain

Join 5x5x5=creativity and colleagues to explore exceptional examples of children's powerful thinking in early years and primary education, supported by Bath Spa Institute for Education. This inspirational day will feature keynotes and follow up discussion groups all based in the beautiful and inspirational surroundings of the American Museum in Britain.

Professor Iram Siraj, Institute of Education and Patron of 5x5x5=creativity will share her recent work on Sustained Shared Thinking and Emotional Wellbeing. To see Iram's presentation download pdf and flyer detailing her forthcoming book on SSTEW.

Professor David Almond, award-winning children's author and Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, will talk about the power of children’s imagination and creativity.

Andrea Sully, Head of Early Years and Transforming Learning at North Somerset CYPS will share her thinking on developing a concept based curriculum for early years and primary education.

Gail Alder, Early Years Consultant, North Somerset will share her recent work developing ‘Provocation Pods’ at the World of Stuff, the home to a million thoughts.

Child Friendly City
Wednesday 1 October
the egg theatre, Bath

Over the last year a group of organisations, groups and individuals have been discussing and building a movement behind the idea that Bath could become the first UNICEF accredited child friendly city in England.

A number of events including the Forest of Imagination at Bath Spa University, have been creating experiences, listening to the voices and collecting the stories of young people of all ages to help build a picture of what this might look like in reality.

On the 1st October we are hosting the first inter-generational conversation about what it means to the citizens of Bath to become a child friendly city. This conversation will be for 80 people and use the method of world cafe, to help young people and adults work together to start creating ideas which we can individually and collectively begin taking action on whilst a wider conversation of how it is possible to build the legislative, governance and financial frameworks to make this happen for future generations.

With a keynote speech from the renowned author, David Almond, this promises to be a fascinating event.

See our short film Children's Rights

Forest of Imagination 11-14 July 2014

A 4-day contemporary arts event in the city of Bath that promises to be unforgettable!

This unique contemporary arts event will present a magical, immersive Forest designed by international landscape architect, Andrew Grant, with contributions from a wide range of artists.

Visitors wandering through the thicket of living trees will discover stunning installations and artworks by artists such as Edwina Bridgeman, Michael Brennan-Wood, Alison Harper and staff and students from Bath School of Art and Design. Forest delights include fantastical flowers and creatures made from found and reclaimed objects.

Children are invited to take part in seriously playful workshops, ‘The Inspiration Generator’, led by The House of Fairy Tales.  These theatrical learning experiences will encourage a sense of creative discovery and allow them to explore the collection of interactive artworks and activities in and around the Forest.  Each workshop lasts one hour and can accommodate 30 children.  There will be four sessions per day, starting from 10.00 am.

Schools are invited to create original hand-made bird boxes to bring along and place in the Forest.

The long term vision is to celebrate and champion the contemporary arts in Bath, firing our collective imagination and creativity, with a vision for a new permanent space in the city for arts, film and making. So come and help us put Bath on the map for contemporary arts and shape the future commitment to the arts and creativity. We look forward to seeing you in the Forest! Go to our live blog for more details:

See our short film Forest of the Imagination

Exploring Visual Arts Practice in Education Settings

Wednesday 14 May, 10am - 1pm

An open meeting at Bath Artists' Studios Education to share ideas and best practice about visual artists working in education settings.


Creative Teaching for Creative Learning Monday 28 April

American Museum in Britain, Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD

A playful day of dialogue and activity, inpsiring you to develop a creative curriculum that puts children at the heart of learning.

The day will include keynote sessions from Nicholas Garrick, Director of Lighting up Learning, and Sandra Stancliffe, English Heritage, and workshops exploring a wide variety of creative inspirations for classroom learning.


Tackling Underachievement through Creativity in Primary Mathematics

Wednesday 27 November, 17.00 – 19.00

Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) 
Queens Square, Bath BA1 2HN

The first line of the new national curriculum states: “Mathematics is a creative and highly inter-connected subject”. This event is a chance to engage actively in some of the work of a research project that, for the last three years, has been tackling underachievement in primary mathematics through a focus on creativity. The project is a collaboration between the University of Bristol and 5x5x5=creativity.

We have had some striking successes with our research together and in this session we will share what we have learnt. We will offer our thoughts on how and why students can get engaged through creative processes in mathematics, show how these need not be in conflict with curriculum coverage and can in fact help with the need to work on complex ideas with young children. Participants will engage in one or more of the activities from the project, we will look at some students' work, hear the teachers’ stories and open up a discussion of issues raised.

Speakers: Alf Coles, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol
, Penny Hay, Director of Research, 5x5x5=creativity, Senior Lecturer in Arts Education, Bath Spa University, 
Teachers from the project


Refocus Bath and Bristol and 5x5x5=creativity

Musical Minds: The potential of music

Learning in and through music with children and young people

16 March 2012 1-5pm at the American Museum in Britain, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7BD

A summary of the seminar:

How do we nurture and support all children and young people in the development of the musical capacities they have from birth and and share with others the value and enjoyment of music as they grow and develop?

This seminar offers the opportunity to look at projects that work with creative enablers, especially musicians and educators, to tap into children and young people's musical communication and expression, starting from the children's musical and imaginative ideas in their play.

Catherine Reding: Music specialist and educator shares her work with Sightlines Initiative ‘Drama of Sound' project in the North East of England.

Annie Menter: project director and Executive of the WOMAD Foundation, shares a number of specific projects both within the context of 5x5x5 and within WOMAD's wider remit and experiences of working with musicians from around the world within a variety of educational settings both in the UK and abroad, showing how we can nurture and value musical creativity within young people, encouraging exploration, experimentation and emotional expression through musical participation.

Mauricio Velasierra, musician, composer and educator discusses the role of music in his childhood and his work followed by a practical workshop.


Creativity and emotional wellbeing held at the American Museum in Britain, 11 November 2011

A selection of notes and video clips from our seminar:

Opening of the seminar: introduction by Penny Hay, Director of Research 5x5x5=creativity

Karen & Robyn's conversation
Nowadays, even young children are sensitive to the steady push for a fairer society and changes in authority structures. A democratic society depends on everyone taking responsibility and contributing what they can, which is possible only when each of us feels we belong and are seen as uniquely creative, capable and self-determining individuals.

Key themes in Karen & Robyn's conversation

1. To be human is to be creative - to be compelled to engage with and make sense of the world around us. We use all of our senses and our shared and unique capacities, to find meaning and communicate with others. From the first year of life, the capacity to invent and create is universal. We interact with our environment and with others and we express our understandings in a multitude of creative ways.

2. Throughout our lives, once our basic needs for physical comfort and safety are met, our feelings of emotional wellbeing depend upon our sense of being important, respected and valued - at least to the extent that those around us are.

3. The Crucial Cs provide an easy way to remember our fundamental psychological needs from birth through old age and a framework that helps us think about how to promote emotional wellbeing, creativity and social interest and engagement: 1) to belong, to fit in, to feel secure or to feel CONNECTED; 2) to feel competent, able to improve or to feel CAPABLE; 3) to feel significant, that we matter, make a difference and are regarded as self-determining or to feel we COUNT; and 4) to feel able to handle difficult situations and overcome fear or to have COURAGE.

4. The push for equality and democratic political structures can be traced back to the Greeks, and the recent ‘Arab Spring' reminds us of the intensity of this push to be treated fairly and to participate in decisions that affect our lives.

5. In well-off countries around the world, rapid social changes, including changes in family structures and authority relationships, contribute to the sense that the need for equality is not easily satisfied. Even young children are sensitive to the steady push for a fairer society and changes in authority structures. Yet a growing number of studies impressively demonstrate that greater equality, a sense of control and social interest and engagement reduce stress and unhappiness and promote health and wellbeing (epidemiologist Sir Michael Marmot's Whitehall Study, economist Richard Layard's book on happiness research and Wilkinson and Pickett's book The Spirit Level).

6. Persistent challenges to promoting equality of value and social inclusion, respect and other elements of democratic living are:

• equality narrowly defined as ‘the same'
• difficulties with social differences, different values
• very limited view of what constitutes ‘success'
• need to celebrate different perceptions, talents and abilities
• power strivings that arise from feelings of inadequacy taken to ‘prove' that humans are inherently competitive rather than cooperative
• repetitive swings from autocratic/authoritarian methods to laissez faire methods. Need to develop and exercise authoritative methods

7. A democratic society depends on everyone taking responsibility and contributing what they can, which is possible only when each of us feels we belong and are seen as being of equal value and uniquely creative, capable and self-determining individuals. This requires the courage to be imperfect and recognising that making mistakes promotes learning and ultimately greater cooperation.

What are you doing to enhance your own and others' wellbeing and creativity?

You can watch a video clip of Karen and Robyn's conversation here:

The Crucial Cs and Goals of Misbehaviour: The Basic Need to Belong (Karen John) download paper here

Theory versus spontaneity in the consulting room - finding the mid-range (Jeremy Holmes, University of Exeter) download paper here

Karen John
Karen is a developmental psychologist who works as a researcher, trainer, lecturer, consultant, psychotherapist and supervisor. With 40 years' experience in mental health, research and training, her abiding aim is to help individuals, families, organisations and professionals recognise and overcome internal and external obstacles that interfere with their healthy functioning.

Robyn Pound
Robyn is a health visitor, practice researcher and Adlerian psychotherapist with an interest in supporting parents and their children, practitioners and policy makers to explore and take responsibility for what we each do in our social lives to creatively influence the kind of society we all wish to live in.

Catherine and Helen's conversation
Helen and Catherine explore commonalities and differences in their roles and practice as Art Psychotherapist and Artist working in clinical/educational settings. Drawing upon individual case studies they explore models which fold down historical boundaries around therapeutic art practice and support holistic, creative engagement and well-being.

Key themes in Catherine and Helen's conversation

• What, currently, is exciting us about our practice in this area?
• What are our mutual areas of interest and professional cross-overs? Infant attachment, relational development, identity construction, re-construction
• Example of shared 5x5x5 residency and mentor roles across two settings (Three Ways School and Warmley Park School)
• Client /educator/ child/student experience with the different communities and the complementary factors this brings to discussion
• Trust built up through layers of dialogue within settings
• The role of empathy, intuition and our respective professional backgrounds
• Understanding that a variety of interventions may be necessary to consider for the wellbeing of the participants

• 5x5x5 provides us as artists with time, creative space, the responsibility of a free hand
• The complete experience and ownership of this, for the artist, staff, pupils and participants
• 'Welcoming, wondering and valuing'
• What we're given as permission, we can give to the children as permission; look at growth & learning together, to open up new experiences and new ideas;
• The experiences we bring to the children

• Starting points and their importance; spontaneity and its place
• Doing away with assumptions and working with what is in the here and now
• Risk-taking: how uncomfortable this can be; how we respond to this on a non-verbal level and come to it new each time
• Ralph Steadman and the Needless Smut!

• Embodied responses; cognitive, somatic and sensory responses; finding a completely new way to respond to these
• The 'relational body'
• 'Words don't cut it'
• Looking at the non-verbal and the artist's and Art Psychotherapist's response to this, whatever the age, whatever the stage of life.
• Who knows which images, taken in to work with, lodge in the unconscious

• Our art practice at the core, requiring more of our resources in each new setting
• 'The vulnerability of the line and the rigour of the line'
• 'The charge of materials'
• The freedom of the outside experience

You can watch a video clip of Catherine and Helen's conversation here

Catherine Lamont-Robinson
Catherine is practitioner/researcher working in schools, clinical contexts and Higher Education. Her research to date focuses on sensory/cognitive connection-making and improvisation through arts practice. Catherine is a 5x5x5 artist-researcher and has a particular interest in whole-body engagement working/learning alongside children and students with special needs.

Helen Jury
Helen is an artist practitioner, researcher and Art Psychotherapist who works with the artform in a variety of settings with children, young people and adults, exploring their means of communication through art. She has a research interest in the visual narrative and how we choose to express ourselves through both verbal and non-verbal forms, representing the self through personal expression. In her own artwork, she explores the use of memory as narrative.

Ed, Gillian and James' conversation
Reflecting on last year's research at St Saviours Infant School for 5x5x5=creativity, Ed, Gillian and James will be exploring the value that creative outdoor learning has for the emotional wellbeing of children,
how a school's commitment to SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) influences their daily practice, and what the role of the artist looks like within such work.

Key themes from Ed, Gillian's and James' conversation:

Reflecting on last year's research at St Saviours Infant School for 5x5x5=creativity, Ed Harker, Headteacher, Gillian McFarland, parent and Art Therapist, and James Aldridge, Artist in Residence, explored the value that creative outdoor learning has for the emotional wellbeing of children, how a school's commitment to SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) influences their daily practice, and what the role of the artist looks like within such work.

Beginning with three short presentations, as introductions to each of their roles and their understanding of the work carried out together, the session then focused on responding to the interests of audience members, inviting discussion and linking with the two previous conversations/presentations.

Whilst Ed responded to Robin and Karen's exploration of creativity and democracy, and what this could actually look like within a school setting, Gillian shared the experiences of her son and the effect that being part of the 5x5x5=creativity research project has had on him, and James looked at the creative dialogue between a child and their environment, and the dual benefit for child and environment.

‘Froebel recognised the significance of play in childhood years before his involvement with kindergarten, and he devoted one of the introductory essays in The Education of Man to its importance: "Play is the purest, the most spiritual, product of man at this stage, and is at once the prefiguration and imitation of the total human life, -of the inner, secret, natural life in man and in all things. It produces, therefore, joy, freedom, satisfaction, repose within and without, peace with the world. The springs of all good rest within it and go out from it."
All of the kindergarten activities, the singing, dancing, gardening, storytelling, gifts, and occupations were play; it was the engine that propelled the system. . . .'
Norman Brosterman, Inventing Kindergarten, pp. 32 - 33, Harry N. Abra

James: What do you say if someone asks you what you do in 5x5x5?

William: That we make stuff from anything that we can find

Luke: ...because we want to make our playground better

James: How is 5x5x5 different from normal school?

Bertie: You make things outside, not inside

James: ...and when we come outside how does it make you feel?

Children: Happy!

5x5x5=creativity at St Saviours Infant School, 2011

‘As part of the growing movement to shift the paradigm of a bounded, isolated self toward a vision of a self that is permeable, interconnected not only with other human selves but with all living beings and processes, a new theory of child development must be evolved. Such a theory must take into consideration that the infant is born into not only a social but an ecological context. It must acknowledge that, from the earliest moments of life, the infant has an awareness not only of human touch, but of the touch of the breeze on her skin, variations in light and temperature, texture, sound.'
Anita Barrows - The Ecopsychology of Child Development

You can watch a video clip of Ed, James and Gillian's conversation here

Ed Harker
Ed is the Headteacher of St Saviours Nursery and Infant School in Larkhall on the outskirts of Bath and has been involved in 5x5x5 for the last 10 years, initially as a Nursery teacher. His school enjoys the challenge of reconciling the apparent tensions between providing an age appropriate and engaging curriculum for young children and the drive to raise levels of achievement in core skills.

Gillian McFarland
Gillian is an art therapist, artist and parent .She has 25 years experience working in the arts, education and mental health, She is interested in the engagement of the individual in creative activity and its potential to deepen an awareness of self and others .

James Aldridge
James is an artist, consultant and director of Creative Ecology, working with 5x5x5=creativity as an artist and mentor since 2005. James makes art with people and places, from site-specific installations to participatory projects, in partnership with a range of organisations from the arts, education, heritage and environmental sectors.

Key questions from delegates:

How do we manifest democracy daily?
How do we hone our observation skills?
How do we apply these principles in a class of 30 with one adult
How do we maintain connection to our core values?


How do we manifest democracy daily?

Key words:
Avoiding judgements
Appropriate choice
Open to challenge
Valuing everyone
Creative wellbeing for adults too
Failing happily
Revisit/reflect on different viewpoints

How do we hone our observation skills?

Key words/phrases:
With patients - taking a message to medical students (future doctors)
‘You feel as if you are being taught to see more... patients looking for personality, reassurance and comfort'
different types of observational skills
Visual artists - identifying people's work. Process whereby individual's work can be easily identified from knowing the person
Our observational skills are quite instinctive and underused
Intensive care - premature babies - early intervention - observing and describing is key - making environment as womb-like and protective as possible. Getting away from old model of negative stimuli. Empowering parents to observe and pick up signals from babies. Long term impact of having a baby in intensive care. Need to create a space for parents to reflect and come to terms with emotions
Observation not just about seeing, about observing with all the senses
‘Being' with someone may be the most important thing - not always encouraged in healthcare
Possibilities of different observations of the same situation
‘Labels' can frame our observations
How can we feedback observations to change perceptions?
Sometimes observations can come afterwards
What remains?
Police observations - asking people to be a fly on the wall. Asking people to take themselves out of themselves
Difference between observation and reflection
The more you see the more you realise you have missed - subliminal things that you think you have missed when you haven't
How do we share our observations (especially if they have been difficult or negative)?
Not possible to rush observations - seeing is linked to learning - there shouldn't be a right way of seeing
Encouraging care staff in nursing home to observe relationships and connections between people
Challenging to involve all carers who may not have confidence in their observation skills (see themselves as ‘do-ers' - how do you empower those people?)
Start from where they are now to open a little window

Ending of the day